The UPEISU Council met for its final meeting of 2017 and discussed the Student Centre Refresh, the creation of a new SU award, a proposal for a clubs mentorship program, and the SU’s 2016-17 audited financial statements (okay – these weren’t actually discussed). Thankfully, we are paid to go so you don’t have to. 

Council Votes Yes on Student Centre Refresh

Seven people, including members of the New Initiatives and Future Directions (NIFD) Committee and Vice President Finance Will McGuigan, presented on the Student Centre Refresh, a planned multi-year renovation of the W.A. Murphy Student Centre.

President Hammad Ahmed put forward a motion to seek approval for the amended project budget so they could move forward in securing a loan up to $410k from the University.

Because the SU lacks collateral, they could not secure a traditional loan through a bank.

The presentation revealed that to-date, a new office had been constructed for the SU’s administrative coordinator and door and elevator security had been enhanced with key card swipes.

On April 11th, 2017, the SU had secured a $365,000 loan from the University over 5 years at 5% interest. However, after requests for proposals, the contract bids for the project all came in over the originally budgeted amount. As a result, the SU executive decided over the summer to delay the project and review it. President Hammad Ahmed said they did not accept the loan.

In November 2017, UPEI Facilities reassessed the project cost from UPEI Facilities at $394,510. The presenters said the project cost would be factored into the operating budget and would not increase student fees for students.

According to a survey commissioned by Council, 88% of student responded that they wanted a bar on campus, and 80% wanted to see the current space renovated.

Recurring themes from survey comments included the need to better advertise events, better lighting, overpricing and other issues with the menu, cliquey staff, bad service, the budget for the project being too high, and not being open on weekends.

Concerns were raised by councillors Erin MacNeill and Mike Ferguson who said that the full results of the survey commissioned by Council had not been circulated to councillors. Ferguson described the situation as “kinda stupid.” The Chair replied, claiming he had been directed not to circulate the survey results. Ahmed said they could be circulated to councillors, to which Ferguson said it needed to happen “right now.”

Councillor Kari Kruse asked if there would be any information released to students through The Cadre. Ahmed said a press release could be issued as a solution and Kruse reiterated that there needed to be a central location where people could access information on the project.

The motion to move forward with the renovation and seek a loan from UPEI passed. The presentation slides can be accessed here.

Financial Statements Presented

Vice President Finance Will McGuigan presented the 2017 draft financial statements for the fiscal year running from May 1st, 2016 to April 30th, 2017. McGuigan briefly spoke to the  recommendations provided by the SU’s auditors: one was to transfer management of the student centre ATMs to a third party to reduce potential liability, which was rejected, and another was to reduce the use of cheques, which had been incorporated to some degree with many employees now being paid by direct deposit. Without any discussion, Council approved the financial statements. This agenda item took approximately five minutes.

Highlights from the financial statements include The Wave reporting a $26,379 loss (an over $18,000 improvement from the previous year) and Mickey’s Place reporting a $8,901 loss, a near doubling of the $4,796 it had lost the previous year. Student Union events also saw a significant decrease, losing $12,564; this was down $32,440 from the $19,876 profit it had reported during the previous year.

The draft statements can be viewed here.

Replacement for Clubs Recruitment Initiative Presented and Approved

Vice President Student Life Megan Rix presented on the Clubs Mentorship Program, a proposed replacement for the Future Executive Development Program (full disclosure: I developed the Future Executive Development Program).

The proposed new program would replace the Future Executive Development Program on a trial basis and would accept five students with up to five $100 grants being available for clubs who participate.

Under the new program, club executives would be assigned a first-year student to mentor. Executives would be expected to meet with their mentee at a designated time each week. This meeting time must be provided to the SU so they may periodically conduct random checks to ensure that mentors and mentees are meeting and evaluate how sessions are going. Club executives would also be expected to write 100-word weekly reports that would be submitted to the SU.

Councillor Ferguson questioned offloading the work of the SU onto club execs, saying they already have much to do. Rix responded that she didn’t think it was a big commitment and was manageable for clubs.

Councillor Caroline Simoes Correa said that as a past executive, she didn’t think she would have the time to mentor someone, and also raised concerns about a possible lack of formality with 3rd party presenters being eliminated from the program and that the program could be more exclusive than inclusive. Rix responded by noting that the program is on a trial basis and that it will be reviewed in the future.

Correa also said she doesn’t see a problem with the old program, explaining that the Recruitment and International Relations Office (which has taken over the Future Executive Development Program) has not had a problem recruiting students. Correa also stated she did not understand how the SU had difficulty recruiting students as the body that represents students compared to a smaller office with fewer resources.

Councillor Ashley McKibbon followed up by asking why the program was being changed if the issue was first-year involvement. Rix responded by saying that the program is “more fun,” and that more clubs want to be involved.

The motion to approve the Clubs Mentorship Program for the second semester was successful.

The proposal can be accessed here.

New Award Endowment, Increased Cellphone Allowance Approved

Vice President Finance McGuigan presented on a suggestion to shift $15,000 from the Student Union’s long-term savings account to endow a $500/year award in perpetuity. Although a name had not been determined for the award, Vice President Student Life Rix suggested it could be named after an honorary member of the Student Union. The move was approved by Council.

Council also discussed increasing cellphone allowances for certain staff members, including the executive and communications staff. Currently, the SU covers 50% of their phone bill up to $50; the change would see that limit increase to 50% up to $60. At the previous Council meeting, debate ensued over the surprise readdition of The Wave’s promotions coordinator, which had been phased out in 2016 by Council to support the creation of an associate director of communication.

McGuigan said that going forward The Wave would have a promotions coordinator who would do social media on food and drink specials and programming like trivia, while the associate director who would focus on SU programming.

Council voted in favour of increasing the cell phone allowance.

By: Nathan Hood